Saturday, April 24, 1999. Talladega Superspeedway. DieHard 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. NOTE: Some drivers won their first and only race at Talladega. Team Monte Carlo drivers who have never won and some who consider themselves ...
Saturday, April 24, 1999. Talladega Superspeedway. DieHard 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
NOTE: Some drivers won their first and only race at Talladega. Team Monte Carlo drivers who have never won and some who consider themselves longshots discuss their chances of winning Sunday and their opinion of restrictor-plate racing.
GEOFF BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "If you're afraid, you shouldn't go out there. I'm concerned. Every driver here is and every crew chief and every mechanic. Everybody should be concerned about is there going to be a big wreck and is anybody going to get hurt. That isn't fear. I'm very comfortable sitting in my car. I've seen the wildest of wrecks and guys get out and walk away. If I ever have a fear factor when I start to climb in the window, I won't do it. I've made that vow to myself many, many years ago, but I'm always concerned. I'm concerned at Martinsville. I'm concerned everywhere, but here, the concern level goes up without a doubt. "I've survived this long and that gives me confidence that I can survive anything. Fifty is just a number. I've seen some 50-year-old people look old, feel old and act old. I've seen some that look young, act young and felt young. I don't know what 50 is supposed to feel like. I feel good. I feel better physically than I have in a long, long time. Fifty was an excuse to go to the Bahamas. It was very relaxing. "I'd like to finish Sunday without a problem. If you do that you can either win or come in 20th. You never know. If things go right, we can win. We've seen it here before, first-time winners, unexpected winners. It's a little harder nowadays because the level of competition is pretty strong and the restrictor plates have made it really close, tight racing and very expensive. Being a new team, we haven't R&D'd like the established teams have. We don't have a lot of things like they have on these tracks, but it still can happen here. You could see a new winner here. You really could this weekend. "I'll tell you who I think is the favorite longshot. Michael Waltrip. He has a fast car. He ran good at Daytona, and he's running good out here. I think he's a favorite longshot. I don't think I'm a longshot. I've won races. Being with a new team, maybe I'm a longshot, but we're an established longshot. I think Michael Waltrip is the guy. I'd have to put my money on the 7 if I was going to bet on a longshot."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think it's etched in the back of your mind when you come to Daytona and Talladega that if something happens it can happen really big. You can't be worried or you shouldn't be out there. I try to anticipate in my head what's going to happen Sunday and what the car feels like and what you can do out there. If your car runs really bad, you're going to be hoping you don't get run over. If your car is running good, you're going to be thinking you've got a shot to win the race and you're going to run with certain guys. How practice goes kind of sets your thinking. "This is the best car I've had at Talladega. It's the same car we wrecked at Daytona. The motor is running awesome. They put new bodies on these cars and we haven't touched them since they did that. It's really strong. We've had to do a little work on our chassis to get our car a little faster. Out there running with everybody you kind of see what their cars are Saturday, April 24, 1999. Talladega Superspeedway. Advance material for DieHard 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 2.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) doing and we were way off when we started, but we've gotten a lot closer. "Qualifying is one thing and racing is another. If the car and body and everything is right and the car runs good and drafts good, you can run in the front. It just makes it easy. If the car is not working good, you're going to be running middle of the pack or in the back. If just depends on who you get hooked up with and who you can run with. You just have to get out there and see what's going on. I think we're pretty good. I think we're going to run in the top 10 most of the day. We may get shuffled back like we normally do, but the car is fast enough to pass guys. "I like restrictor-plate races when my car is working good. We won Daytona and Talladega with our Busch car last year. Daytona we pretty much dominated. Talladega we had to work for it. If everything is there and everything is right, you have a good shot at winning. "It's a little bit different on the Cup side. On the Busch side, the Cup guys we run with every week who run Busch, I have no problem with them when we come back to the Cup side. You get a lot of guys you've never drafted with in the Cup races, and it's a little bit different. You've just got to work with them, but if your car is fast, they don't have a choice. They have to work with you. "If your car is fast and you can pull away, they'd be not very smart not to hook up and go with you. It's a free ride to the front. You've got to have help. If you get a slow car hooked to your back bumper, he bogs you down. You've got to get in the right circumstances. Once you get out on the track, you've got to respond immediately. It gets frustrating, but the spotter has to do his job. If holes are there, he helps me find them. "Felix (car owner Sabates) told me how fast I was going to run yesterday. I thought I could run that fast, too. If we would have run it, we would have been on the pole. We didn't pick up like we thought. We left a couple of tenths laying there somewhere and we don't know where they went. We gave away the pole. It was a big improvement for the whole team. "Anything can happen. To be honest, I don't think we're in a position where we've run good consistently enough to win races. We're not there. I think at Daytona and Talladega anything can happen. The whole key is to be consistent. If you can be consistent, you'll be up front. If we can stay out of the big wreck whenever it happens Sunday, I think we've got a shot at the top five. I'd be tickled pink with a top five the way our season has gone. If we could just finish the race in one piece, it would be great."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's a devastating deal here, more so here for the big 15-20 car pileup, but as far as just the fear factor for going in there and something happening, I'd say it's more so at Atlanta and Texas. A lot of times I try to think about drafting moves and you always try not to show your hand in practice. You always try to save a move or two for the race and then hope like hell it works. I think about those moves I've got back in the archives and think about a couple that have been pulled on me that I need to use on some other people. I think we're going to win the race. The car worked great this morning. I wouldn't be surprised to see that No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet in victory lane Sunday. I know a lot of people have won their first races here, and that wouldn't bother me one bit."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We could win. Three or four guys are stronger than us right now, but it really depends on who you're running with and if anybody is going to help you at the end. That's the whole thing. I think our car is pretty good. It seemed like we were really strong in practice, but everybody is driving like maniacs really. It's a lot more aggressive than it used to be around here. Nobody just stays in line anymore. The best thing to do is get in a group of cars and pull away from the rest of the field. Then you can race later. That's the best deal. If everybody is going to be moving around, you're going to have 40 cars stacked up the whole race and it's going to get really tough. It's mostly mental. It's really hot in those cars, but it's not like racing at Bristol or somewhere like that. It's fun. I like this type of racing. I really enjoy it. You have to take advantage of a lot of things that are invisible in the air. There are certain things you can do and certain things you want to stay away from to go fast. It's a lot of fun. "I like the Fontanas and Atlantas and Michigans and Poconos. I like the faster race tracks. I learned how to draft here. I guess I was a pretty quick learner. I had Mark Martin as a teammate when I first started running here. We used to draft a lot together. The biggest thing is just having guys you're comfortable drafting with and knowing they're not going to do something stupid. That's the key to get around guys like that. That last session this morning, everybody looked pretty good. One or two guys were in and out, in and out, but everybody looked pretty good. "You have to wait until after the first 25 or 30 laps and start talking to your spotter and seeing who you run good with, too. There will be cars you run good with and cars you don't run good with. I'd like to work with my teammates. It would be nice to be in position for the three of us to be running together. When it comes right down to it, if it's not my teammates, I want somebody who hasn't won a race working with me. It seems like these guys had rather push a guy that's racing for the championship to victory than somebody who hasn't won a race, so if it comes down to that, I hope it's a guy who'd rather see this guy win than a guy who's won 30 races. "I think we've got a shot to win. I really do. Last week, I wouldn't say that. We didn't have a chance to get in the race. Some cars out there are awfully strong. The 18 is strong. The 31 is strong. The 24 is strong. I had trouble passing those guys. I could pretty much get around anyone else I wanted. We're going to work on a little bit of shock stuff this afternoon and probably change the carburetor. We're going to try to get the car where it will suck up a little bit better in the draft. The car is driving good. The tire temperatures were good, and I was really happy with the way the car handled. We just need to get it where it will pull up a little better on that last car length when we're drafting."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were really good at Daytona, and this is the same car. We just put it together and hoped it would run for Daytona and it did. Since that time, Bobby (crew chief Kennedy) and the guys have had some time to refine it and work on it. I believe it'll be better here than it was down there. It qualified good, and it'll run good in the race. "I don't know what good it would do not to like the restrictor plate races. You've got to run 'em. I've heard everybody complaining about them.
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) but I generally try not to complain about anything much. You've got to race. My whole goal is to race it and be positive and when you've got a car as good as we've got, you've got to be optimistic that you can win the race. The reality of it is you can wreck, too. It's 50-50 here I guess that you will or won't wreck. When you go to Martinsville you probably don't ever consider that you can be in a real bad wreck. Chances are you won't. When you come here, you could be in a real bad wreck. You've got to understand it's possible, but you've also got to understand that you can win the race. It's part of the schedule and part of what we've got to do, so I look at it as an opportunity to run well. I'm pretty excited about it. "I really feel confident that when I get in my car that I'm as safe as I can be. We choose to do what we do. Those kids went to school the other day and look what happened. They didn't choose that. I don't look for any sympathy. I just want to drive my race car and understand that I could wreck and I could get hurt, but it's also in my power to make the car as safe as possible so I don't get hurt. I'm been in some pretty bad wrecks over the years, and I haven't got hurt yet. I just look at it as an opportunity to win a race. I'm confident everything will be OK. "You have to be smart, have a great race car and a great pit crew to put yourself in position to win a race. I'd like to see Sterling and Joe Nemechek be good. That team has really helped our team, and we really work together well with those guys. That's what I'd like to see happen. I've been here long enough to understand those things don't work out like you hope they would. At Daytona, Sterling and Joe both got in a wreck and were gone. I know who I can work with and who I can't. Dale Earnhardt and I always seem to work well together. Until you see what situation you get in, it's hard to tell what you're going to do. You make new friends on race day. Guys that you can trust and it starts early and you develop a relationship that can help you both before the day is over. "I'll be one of the guys who can win the race Sunday, and there won't be that many of us. I think if you ask my team and people who have control over my destiny tomorrow, they'll all feel that way. We believe it, and we can make it happen. We'll be good enough to win the race. We know that, and I think everybody else does, too."